No matter how long I’ve been gone this time,
Much of it is still the same;
The house that my grandparents owned, still stands;
The church and school, down on the corner (where my
father, aunt and uncle went to school)–where I went
to school for eight years, remains. The mom & pop
grocery shops on the corners are boarded and gone,
as are the merchants who sold us their goods;
But there are still thickets of forests and parks,
Mount Airy and Winton woods.
Downtown is different and somehow still the same,
Fountain Square has been moved several feet;
Shillitoes, Pogues, McAlpin’s are gone;
a new stadium makes change complete;
The Ohio River looks much the same,
Newport-on-the-Levee, however, is new,
(and a delight to visit), I don’t recognize the
strange purple bridge over the river,
or where the expressways go to;
Camp Washington Chili Parlor is still standing (after 75 years
and still family owned) and yet The building was moved
to widen the street (a must to visit for lunches while I am there),
Findlay Market still stands but has been renovated
and greatly expanded to make its transformation complete.
I know its my home. I visit my school where I
graduated from high school sixty years ago; my
school, Mother of Mercy, is merging with another
girls’ high school–my school, built in 1915, the
year my father was born; I attended a class reunion
in April and we were allowed to roam the halls,
bringing back so many memories; our graduating
class of about 250 students has dwindled down to
less than fifty of us in attendance. A photograph
was taken of us, in front of Mother of Mercy, by
a professional photographer, prints given to all of us
when the reunion was over.
How can so much be changed and yet, so much
is still the same?
I know its my hometown, where I was born (where my parents were born!)
Where I went to St Leo’s school for 8 years, attended high school at Mercy,
got married, worked downtown–and moved to California. I recognize the
names of the streets where I lived. Except for my grandparents’ home,
the other houses where I once lived are gone.
I am almost a stranger in the place where I was
born. And yet, there are friends that I greet,
family members gather close to hug and kiss;
Returning home…is always bitter sweet.
Sandra Lee Smith
(originally written in September, 2009; updated June, 2018)